Letters: What’s the big deal?

Why is it the business of leaders of organizations, Left and Right, to criticize the law? It does not prevent anyone from conducting a protest.

July 16, 2011 22:41

letters. (photo credit: JP)

What’s the big deal?

Sir, – I don’t understand why American Jews criticize a bill that was passed by a democratically elected Knesset (“Across political spectrum, American Jews are criticizing new anti-boycott bill,” July 14).

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Why is it the business of so called leaders of organizations, Left and Right, to criticize the law? It does not prevent anyone from conducting a protest – it merely allows those hurt by a boycott to sue an individual or group for monetary damages.

The law does not damage the legitimate right to freedom of speech.


Ma’aleh Adumim

Updates needed

Sir, – The so-called boycott law has drawn fire from left-wing NGOs because, they say, it tramples free expression, which is a hallmark of democracy.

I am not a lawyer and do not know if this is so, but a law certainly may go against civil liberties.

We are in a new era.

The Geneva Convention prohibits the killing of innocent bystanders in wars, but how does this fit in with terrorist warfare, where human shields are used regularly to protect aggressors? Circumstances demand a review and an updating of these laws.

Uri Avnery is quoted as saying in “Gush Shalom: ‘Boycott Law’ heralds ‘death sentence for freedom of expression” (July 13) that this is “a death sentence for the right of freedom of expression” and can be compared with laws in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. That’s an interesting comparison. Lest we forget, Germans democratically chose Hitler as their chancellor. Hitler was the product of democratic laws! Lest we forget, the Gazans democratically elected the terrorist regime of Hamas in 2005.

Democracy is great. Civil liberties are wonderful. But as one of my friends says, “Sometimes you have to break your principles and do what you think is right!”



Sir, – When will our left wingers learn that everything has a limit – even freedom – and that this limit is reached when freedom becomes license? When members of the Left call for a boycott of goods made in Samaria or any part of the disputed territories, they themselves are restricting freedom.

This kind of blind thinking on the part of the Left will lead only to the loss of our country and the loss of the strength this country gives us to prevent another Holocaust.


Rishon Lezion

PM’s evasiveness

Sir, – Many of your readers have probably watched “Prime Minister’s Question Time” in the British House of Commons, or David Cameron, the British prime minister, giving a wide ranging press conference with no holds barred. They may even have seen the grilling of witnesses by the House of Commons’s Select Committee in the Rupert Murdoch/News of the World hacking scandal.

Such events are at the heart of democratic accountability and transparency – concepts that are glaringly absent from the Israeli political scene, where government ministers and MKs treat the voting public with barely concealed arrogance and contempt.

One example: Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to explain why he did not vote on the controversial anti-boycott bill. Does he – the prime minister – have no view one way or the other on such a fundamental issue, or is he just plain scared of offending factions of his coalition? The public surely has a right to know.



Issues with editorial

Sir, – With all due respect to “The bad boycott bill” (Editorial, July 12), you have glossed over the main points. You fail to discuss that there are numerous NGOs and organizations that work tirelessly to eradicate the State of Israel.

The BDS movement does not seek to boycott materials produced by companies in the West Bank; it seeks to boycott all products produced in Israel, renounce ties with all Israeli academics, divest from all Israeli companies and have the country sanctioned into elimination.

Such anti-Semitic ideas (which I have personally seen while fighting BDS in northern California for the past two years) have no place in the free market of ideas.

There are many reasons why the law should be rewritten, but its spirit should be supported.



Sir, – Although the anti-boycott bill was passed the same day your editorial appeared, the issues raised in the bill are undoubtedly relevant and will likely be contested in the courts.

I therefore carefully reviewed your editorial several times. Having pointed out so succinctly the absurdity in some Israelis and others supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, not to mention the potential economic and political damage to Israel, you nevertheless say the following: “Legislation that infringes freedom of expression is not the way to battle the local BDS movement.”

It needs be pointed out that the law, far from stifling freedom of expression, will simply allow citizens to bring civil suits against persons and organizations that call for boycotts against Israel. As the bill’s sponsor put it, “The law says that if you harm me [with a boycott], I have the right to ask for damages, and if you boycott the State of Israel, don’t ask it for benefits.”

I must say that the first half of your editorial, which explained the reasons behind the bill, was far more convincing than the second half.


Petah Tikva

Age 67 is sensible

Sir, – Regarding “MKs call ‘emergency conference’ to block increase in women’s retirement age to 67” (July 13), I am a firm believer in equal rights for all members of our society, including women, Arabs and any other group. However equality means equal opportunities, not equal results.

Pension rights are a prickly subject, primarily because when retirement ages were first established, life expectancy was much lower than it is today. Originally, retirement age was five to 10 years less than the average expected life span.

Today, people live much longer, and this places an unfair burden on younger workers who are expected to support an increasing proportion of the population that may well live for 30 years beyond retirement. This is an untenable situation, and Israel is tackling it in a sensible way.

For some strange reason, the retirement age for women in Israel was set at an earlier age than for men despite the fact that, on average, women live three or four years longer than men. Logically, women should retire at an older age than men!


Ma’aleh Adumim

Wording important

Sir, – The editor should be careful in his use of the term “Palestinian,” as in “...the UN General Assembly partition resolution, which endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state (and a Palestinian one)” (“Athens and Jerusalem, Editorial, July 11).

The editorial was correct in its statement about the resolution calling for a Jewish state. It errs when attributing to the resolution anything about a “Palestinian” state. The partition plan recommended an “Arab” state.

Nowhere did the term “Palestinian” refer to the Arabs of Palestine or an Arab state. The term was reserved for those holding citizenship in western Palestine (Cisjordan), be they Arab or Jew. In 1947, “Palestine” and “Palestinian” meant only the British mandate or anything associated with it.

Judging by the resolution’s wording, one might correctly assume that there existed Jews and Arabs in 1947 Palestine, but not an Arab nationality called “Palestinian.”



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